The Voice Over Talent Checklist

Professional voice over talent can make their job look (and sound) easy. How hard can it be to stand in front of a microphone, read a radio commercial script with light and shade in the right tone, and make it sound like you’re not actually reading, regardless of the read style requested?

And if the client is on the line directing the session, how hard can it be to do all that while listening to and responding to their direction?

Pretty hard, as it turns out.

So, if you’re considering submitting a sample of your voice work to an agency or production company, think about this checklist before you send the email.

  1. Do you have regular, daily access to a voice booth?

In a deadline-driven industry where missed spots equals lost revenue, you’ll likely have to turn high quality work around fairly quickly. Regular, easy access to a good quality, acoustically-dead voice over booth is a must. And if you don’t have a booth, there are lots of options for purchasing or building one.

  1. What experience do you have recording commercials and narrative scripts?

While having a voice booth is the first step to being able to physically record voiceovers, if you don’t have experience in actually doing them, press pause. It’s not enough to have a booth or ‘a great-sounding voice that your friends love.’ In fact, that’s only part of the picture. It’s important that voice talent know how to interpret a script and how to get ‘inside’ it to convey its meaning. There’s no shortcut for experience. The more scripts you read, the better you’ll get. 

If you’re just starting out on your voice over journey, BEFORE you send a demo, start by reading scripts. And then reading more. And then, read some more. Even if you’re simply recording yourself with your phone, practice makes perfect.

  1. Can you read a script without sounding like you’re reading it?

This might sound easy but in practice is actually quite difficult, and it’s what separates average voice over talent from great talent. Reading the script and making it sound like you’re telling a story is a skill that can take time to develop. 

From a hard-sell radio commercial to a conversational ad, the voice over should not sound like it’s being read verbatim from a script. Understanding where to inject light and shade, which words to lean on, and which should be ‘swallowed’ for less emphasis is important. 

  1. Are you flexible and easy to work with?

So, you’ve got the booth, the experience, and the skill. Great. But how flexible and easy are you to work with? 

Some of the industry’s best talent – who you’d think could have the biggest egos – can actually be the most humble. In fact, I think there’s often (not always) an inverse correlation between the level of talent and the size of the ego. Voice over talent who are flexible and easy to work with seem to get the most work.

So, before you press ‘send’ on your voice over demo, think about this checklist!

This was originally published in part on the Abe’s Audio blog.

Looking for voice over talent or want to send your demo? Get in touch with Abe’s (but read this first!)

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